Arsenal visited Hawthorns with a view of repeating their 4-1 thumping against Reading a week prior to the kick off against the Baggies. Arsene Wenger landed a balanced squad against Steve Clark’s West Bromwich Albion at their own turf while Steve Clark opted to rest Romeu Lukaku, who had been on a incredible form.
Wojciech Szczesny was benched in favour of Lukasz Fabianski and Laurent Koscielny was opted to play at the heart of defence benching Arsenal’s Belgian captain in Thomas Vermaelen. On the other areas, Tomas Rosicky, Nacho Monreal and Gervinho deputized Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott respectively. Being eliminated from all other tournaments in Champions League and FA Cup, the Gunners are free from the Cup worries unlike their London rivals like Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur who are also in the hunt for a Champions League spot. West Bromwich Albion capitalized using the sloppy moves from Arsenal early into the first half. Yacob’s double effort ended in vain thanks to the reflex movement from Tomas Rosicky.
Tomas Rosicky spurned an early chance to put Arsenal ahead as he shot wide after a few delicious moves from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud. Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky started the first half in a wasteful way as the former made staggering crosses despite possessing stupendous space to do substantial moves and the latter being sloppy at almost all the departments. The offside trap slammed the Baggies by their choke as all the midfielders’ through-balls were precisely read by the visiting defenders. Arsenal capitalized using the loopholes as Mikel Arteta long ball was excellent controlled by Gervinho, who attempted to find the back of the net only to be caught by Tomas Rosicky in the mid-air who notched up Arsenal’s opener to shatter Ben Foster’s dream of keeping a clean sheet against the Gunners in his eighth attempt to do so.
Moments after scoring the opener, Tomas Rosicky conceded a free-kick and Chris Brunt managed to shoot past the Arsenal’s wall only to be blocked by Arsenal’s Polish goal-keeper. Aaron Ramsey was booked for a challenge on Thomas which undoubtedly looked unintentional. The goal-scorer collected his yellow card from Howard Webb for a legitimate tackle on Morrison. Howard Webb did not award a penalty to the hosts as Arsenal’s French centre-back brought Yacob down. Had he called it a penalty, it would have looked harsh. The Baggies had their share of attempts in an unbiased first half not to mention the Arsenal’s lead.
Aaron Ramsey piled up more hatred from the Arsenal supporters as he failed to convert a glorious chance as Tomas Rosicky, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla combined to set up the Welshman. Bacary Sagna piled up more misery as he failed to score his fourth Premier League goal after exchanging passes with Gervinho. Aaron Ramsey replicated his assist against Reading as he assisted Tomas Rosicky, who tested Ben Foster twice to bag his and Arsenal’s second goal. Surprisingly, Santi Cazorla did not make any attempt to add more goals to his tally except for once.
Laurent Koscielny dealt with last-man-tackles amazingly well as he always does for which he became the third Arsenal player to get booked. Per Mertesacker was sent off for a mis-timed challenge on Shane Long inside the penalty box. James Morrison made the Hawthorns go bananas as he converted the penalty in a not-to-fashionable way. The West Midlands club’s supporters saved their adrenaline for the final twenty five minutes as West Bromwich Albion made optimum use of the one-man-advantage. The Baggies’ midfield support catalysed their attack and Lukasz Fabianski had to pull off decent saves at regular intervals. Having brought Romeu Lukaku on, West Bromwich Albion had a lot of attacking options to cash in on their one-man-advantage. The Throstles opted for long balls to discover their luck and the Baggies terrorized Arsenal’s back-four constantly late into the second half as Chelsea’s loanee in Romeu Lukaku continuously tantalized Arsenal’s right-back.
To add more stability to Arsenal’s defense, Le Professor sacrificed the man-on-a-hat-trick for Kieran Gibbs to come on as Mertesacker’s red-card changed things upside down. Mikel Arteta became the fourth and the final Arsenal’s player to get booked for his challenge on Billy Jones. Ridgewell got the first and only booking in the Baggies roster as he challenged the most-jeered-man on the pitch. Shane Long and Rosenberg added more misery to the host as they spurned clear-cut chances to equalize. Olivier Giroud took the limelight towards the end as he stepped down for defensive duty and wasted a few seconds into the additional time by falling onto the ground. Suprisingly, the French striker had a late goal-scoring chance, which he ultimately wasted. Nacho Monreal had been phenomenal throughout and the trio of Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky gelled awesomely to catalyse the midfield attack and Lukasz Fabianksi had a terrific game not to mention a few nervy moments. Though Arsenal did a bit of dirty work towards the end, this is ample to store the confidence of Arsene Wenger’s men.